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Romans

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  • 28-08-2020 12:27am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 3,590 ✭✭✭


    How come the archaeological establishment in Ireland maintains that the Romans did not spend any time here?

    There is more and more evidence surfacing that shows they Did stay here for a while.

    So why is the possibility still being denied?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,749 ✭✭✭Smiles35


    What's the latest? I read something from 2000 that mentioned a fort that had Roman coins. Also a woman burried in a Roman style.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 60,159 Mod ✭✭✭✭Wibbs


    I never had any real doubt that some Romans came here, or Romanised people anyway and through trade links there was some interaction. European trade routes have been extensive and long in distance way before the Romans grabbed a load of Sabine women.

    On the other hand an actual official or semi official Roman presence here I don't buy into. Yes one general(whose name escapes) reckoned he could have taken the place, but that's about it. Even then I'm not so sure how long they could have held it. Their usual MO was to invade find some local king and support him as a vassal of the empire. Cheaper that way. Ireland was still a hotchpotch of quarreling clans with no real leaders that we know of so might have been harder for the Romans to control the country. If they had invaded I suspect a Vikings type affair around a port like Dublin or Waterford trading with the hinterlands would have been more likely.

    Then there's the why bother aspect. They had England, Wales could be a pain at times and the Scots were such a pain in the Italian arse they built at least three walls to keep the mad buggers out. Ireland had metal deposits and the like , but they could have gotten that far more easily through ordinary trade, as had been going on for thousands of years. The empire at that stage was sprawling and getting harder to control, so pumping cash and men into an enterprise that would get you eff all really wouldn't have been wise. So they didn't.

    Rejoice in the awareness of feeling stupid, for that’s how you end up learning new things. If you’re not aware you’re stupid, you probably are.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    Wibbs wrote: »
    I never had any real doubt that some Romans came here, or Romanised people anyway and through trade links there was some interaction. European trade routes have been extensive and long in distance way before the Romans grabbed a load of Sabine women.

    On the other hand an actual official or semi official Roman presence here I don't buy into. Yes one general(whose name escapes) reckoned he could have taken the place, but that's about it. Even then I'm not so sure how long they could have held it. Their usual MO was to invade find some local king and support him as a vassal of the empire. Cheaper that way. Ireland was still a hotchpotch of quarreling clans with no real leaders that we know of so might have been harder for the Romans to control the country. If they had invaded I suspect a Vikings type affair around a port like Dublin or Waterford trading with the hinterlands would have been more likely.

    Then there's the why bother aspect. They had England, Wales could be a pain at times and the Scots were such a pain in the Italian arse they built at least three walls to keep the mad buggers out. Ireland had metal deposits and the like , but they could have gotten that far more easily through ordinary trade, as had been going on for thousands of years. The empire at that stage was sprawling and getting harder to control, so pumping cash and men into an enterprise that would get you eff all really wouldn't have been wise. So they didn't.

    The general you refer to was Agricola who conquered what is now Wales and campaigned in Scotland around the end of the 1st century. His son in law was Tacitus, who wrote that the Romans were familiar with Ireland through trade. Tacitus also said that Agricola had an Irish prince in his retinue.

    A recent BBC documentary proposed that the Romans had planned to subjugate Ireland when they invaded Britain in the 1st century. The Roman fortress of Deva (now Chester) was the intended capital of Britannia and Hibernia. We have a number of Irish legends about banished Irish princes returning to Ireland with armies and taking kingship. Tuathal Tecthmar is often proposed to be the Irish prince mentioned by Tacitus. Lugaid Mac Con was another one who went to Britain. Eoghan Mor returned from Spain with an army of Spaniards and Asians. The earliest source suggests he was a foreigner who grew up in Ireland, later actually travelled to the land of the Amazons and fought a war there. The Romans fought a number of wars in the Eastern empire in the 2nd century.

    As to why the Romans would even bother with Ireland? Well personal ambition and ego can go a long way. In the middle of the 2nd century Antoninus Pius pushed beyond the sea to sea wall built by Hadrian in Britain and built his own a hundred miles further north. We have a legend about how Ireland was divided from sea to sea along the Esker Riada by Eoghan and Conn Cead Cathach after a treaty was agreed probably in the 2nd century. I think it likely that Eoghan was of Roman heritage and grew up in a Roman community in southern Ireland.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,410 ✭✭✭jmcc


    tibruit wrote: »
    As to why the Romans would even bother with Ireland? Well personal ambition and ego can go a long way. In the middle of the 2nd century Antoninus Pius pushed beyond the sea to sea wall built by Hadrian in Britain and built his own a hundred miles further north. We have a legend about how Ireland was divided from sea to sea along the Esker Riada by Eoghan and Conn Cead Cathach after a treaty was agreed probably in the 2nd century. I think it likely that Eoghan was of Roman heritage and grew up in a Roman community in southern Ireland.
    So is the above based on evidence rather than wishful thinking? It wasn't that gobshíte Keane and his anti-Irish wibbling in that documentary?

    The problem for the Romans was that they didn't have the sea transport necessary for a large scale invasion of Ireland. While they may have been used to sailing in the comparative millpond of the Med, the Irish Sea was one of the the most changeable and roughest sea environments. With Britain, it was only a short hop from Europe. With much of Ireland and Britain, it was three times the distance or more. The nearest points would have been in Scotland and the Romans had some problems there.

    There are papers on the possibility of Irish troops forming the basis for some Auxillary units (this would have been around the time that some of Wales was an Irish colony after the Romans left).

    There was trade between Ireland and the Roman empire but the supply lines would have been too long and would have led to any Roman force being isolated and potentially destroyed before they could be reinforced. After all, we didn't play by Roman rules and the terrain was quite different at the time. The Romans wanted to tax and exploit. Setting up client kings was typically the way that they did their regime change.

    A Roman invasion would have quickly turned into a war of attrition and the Roman Empire was already stretched. It was far easier for the Romans to trade.

    Regards...jmcc


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,684 ✭✭✭An Claidheamh


    jmcc wrote: »
    So is the above based on evidence rather than wishful thinking? It wasn't that gobshíte Keane and his anti-Irish wibbling in that documentary?

    No doubt Officer Keane of the British empire would have used that as evidence,that sure Ireland was practically destined for British rule, in his rather patronisingly titled ‘The Story of Ireland’ for British tv, or that “we” always favoured isolation, not civilisation (occupation) from his mates.


    By the time, the Romans had subdued most of Britain, I believe they had a ‘hold what we have’ policy

    Also, there were indeed Roman coins found in Ireland

    St Patrick was from a late Roman Empire also of course


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,410 ✭✭✭jmcc


    No doubt Officer Keane of the British empire would have used that as evidence,that sure Ireland was practically destined for British rule, in his rather patronisingly titled ‘The Story of Ireland’ for British tv, or that “we” always favoured isolation, not civilisation (occupation) from his mates.
    Himself and his pseudo-history are complete jokes.
    By the time, the Romans had subdued most of Britain, I believe they had a ‘hold what we have’ policy
    The politics of the Roman Empire had also changed.
    Also, there were indeed Roman coins found in Ireland

    St Patrick was from a late Roman Empire also of course
    And pottery and even medical equipment, I think. Cannot remember exactly where I read about them but there were long-established trade routes between Ireland and Britain and Europe.There were also trading posts in Ireland. If I recall correctly, Warner was trying to push the theory that one of the trading posts (Drumanagh) North of Dublin was a Roman fort despite the it not being a fort or laid out like a fort and being in an almost indefensible position (easily besieged and hard to reinforce). The Romans had fort building down to an art. Forts control their landscape. When the fort theory fell apart, it switched to being a "bridgehead" for invasion.

    Regards...jmcc


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    Apologies....not Keane or the BBC.....but Channel 4...Alice Roberts....Britains Most Historic Towns ....episode 1


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,590 ✭✭✭cfuserkildare


    You do know how the Normans/English got a hold here? Yes?
    By invitation, not by conquest.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,410 ✭✭✭jmcc


    tibruit wrote: »
    Apologies....not Keane or the BBC.....but Channel 4...Alice Roberts....Britains Most Historic Towns ....episode 1
    She is much more clueful than Keane. But the logistical problems still existed. A plan is one thing. Execution is something else. Some Romans may have thought about invading Ireland but they would have been overextended as they had not quite managed to take over all of Britain.

    Without moving troops into Britain from the Continent, they would have had to use existing forces in Britain. Dividing or depleting those could have created the necessary conditions for the Britons to recover their country.

    What happened in the Teutoburg forest made the Romans more cautious about fighting in terrain that was not suited to their form of warfare. They could have obtained a lot more by trade with Ireland than they could with invasion.

    Regards...jmcc


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,220 Mod ✭✭✭✭slowburner


    In response to the OP: the archaeological establishment (whatever that is) does not reject the existence of a Roman presence in Ireland.

    The widely accepted view is that there were Roman visitors and possibly even some Roman inhabitants on the island.

    However, there is no definitive archaeological or historical evidence for an established military or colonial presence in Ireland at this time.

    Sadly, the work of the LIARI programme (Later Iron Age and Roman Ireland) has run out of steam but may continue in future, should conditions improve.
    The initial findings of this project certainly challenged many of the conventionally held beliefs about the nature and extent of a Roman presence in Ireland and hinted at some exciting new possibilities, but it did not find any evidence for any kind of an organised Roman presence.

    The most interesting outcome from this study will probably come from Stable Isotope analysis and DNA studies. If access to burials of sufficient quality can be obtained, we might learn where some of these individuals came from.
    I guess the central question is; were these people who were buried in a Roman tradition actually Roman? Or were they Hiberno-Roman, or Anglo-Roman or somewhere else entirely?
    This might in turn lead to further interesting questions about the nature of Hiberno-Roman interactions.

    Here is an interesting summing up of the situation from the erstwhile leader of the LIARI project:
    Actually, Roman and Romano-British artefacts have been found pretty much all over Ireland but they appear to cluster in discrete geographical regions and as I mentioned earlier this distribution does appear to correlate with areas rich in natural resources. Up until quite recently bath-taking, toga-wearing swarthy Italians was the only characterization of all things Roman, even for the province of Britannia. But more recent dialogues in archaeology around the concept of discrepant experiences - as to how the vast majority of ordinary people, not the elite, engaged with a new Roman cultural milieu and political administration even in the western Roman provinces - has provided a much needed paradigm shift in the study of the archaeology of the period at a local and regional level. What the archaeology has demonstrated is that there were many ways to be Roman, and not all of these are obvious within the archaeological record.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,410 ✭✭✭jmcc


    slowburner wrote: »
    The most interesting outcome from this study will probably come from Stable Isotope analysis and DNA studies. If access to burials of sufficient quality can be obtained, we might learn where some of these individuals came from.
    I guess the central question is; were these people who were buried in a Roman tradition actually Roman? Or were they Hiberno-Roman, or Anglo-Roman or somewhere else entirely?
    Anglo-Roman? Is that the preferred nomenclature? :) Romano-British, surely. There may have been waves of refugees from Britain and then some religious early Christians. Trading between Ireland and Britain had been going on for a long time and it was only logical that it would have continued with Romanised Britain.

    The other thing is that Romans varied in that some of them were Northern Italians and some Southern Italians and some were not Italians at all. Julius Caesar was blond. Nero, I think, was a red head.
    This might in turn lead to further interesting questions about the nature of Hiberno-Roman interactions.
    The South East coast rather than around Dublin might be the most interesting to study.

    Regards...jmcc


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,590 ✭✭✭cfuserkildare


    So no-one paying attention to Dromanagh, just above Rush?
    Possibly a huge camp if you look at some of the interesting field marks.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,410 ✭✭✭jmcc


    So no-one paying attention to Dromanagh, just above Rush?
    Possibly a huge camp if you look at some of the interesting field marks.

    https://www.fingal.ie/digging-drumanagh

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/90014316?seq=1

    This laser scan looks cool:

    https://bsdata.blob.core.windows.net/pointclouds/viewer/potree.html?datasrc=https://bsdata.blob.core.windows.net/pointclouds/data/vUaRFKCaOL

    Regards...jmcc


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,220 Mod ✭✭✭✭slowburner


    jmcc wrote: »
    Anglo-Roman? Is that the preferred nomenclature? :) Romano-British, surely. There may have been waves of refugees from Britain and then some religious early Christians. Trading between Ireland and Britain had been going on for a long time and it was only logical that it would have continued with Romanised Britain.

    The other thing is that Romans varied in that some of them were Northern Italians and some Southern Italians and some were not Italians at all. Julius Caesar was blond. Nero, I think, was a red head.

    The South East coast rather than around Dublin might be the most interesting to study.

    Regards...jmcc

    Romano-British it is. Quite right you are.


    Regards...slowburner


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    We have three separate legendary tales of Irish princes who were forced to flee Ireland and who later returned with armies to take kingship. These characters would have lived in the second century when for the most part the Romans controlled Britain as far as and sometimes beyond the Antonine Wall in the north. We can adopt the view that our legends are fictional or alternatively are based on some reality from the time period. If there is provenance to these stories, then it is reasonable to assume that any foreign army arriving in Ireland at this time would have been Roman in some form.

    The legends about Eoghan Mor are particularly interesting because Flann Mainistrech gave us a date for his death i.e. the 5th year of the reign of Commodus (184) and the legends suggest that he fled Ireland about 25 years earlier which would take us back to the later 150s. The earliest tale (Do Bunud Imthechta Eoganachta) says that he was a foreigner to begin with and he fought a war in the eastern part of the Roman empire. A later tale (Cath Magh Leana) says his defeated army at Magh Leana was primarily made up of Spaniards and Asians.

    The Romans fought a war against the Parthians in Armenia, Syria and Mesopotamia from 163 to 165. The Romans initial successes were in Armenia in 163 under the leadership of Statius Priscus. In 161, he had been governor of Britain. A legend about an army of Spaniards and Asians coming here might seem fanciful, but the reality is that there were cohorts of Spaniards serving in Britain in the 2nd century. One of them, a cohort of Asturians, was actually based in Dyfed. Another, a cohort of Vardullians, were defending the Antonine Wall in 160. There are also a number of examples in Britain of epigraphy of individuals whose origins were in Syria and Mesopotamia that have been dated the later 2nd century and who were probably transferred to Britain after the Parthian war.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,220 Mod ✭✭✭✭slowburner


    Which annals do these tales come from?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    slowburner wrote: »
    Which annals do these tales come from?

    This references a number of the sources.....Cath Magh Leana


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    Eugene Curry doesn`t seem to have been aware of this.....Do Bunad Imthechta Eoganachta

    Scroll down to page 312. I`m not aware of an online English translation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,457 ✭✭✭✭Kylta


    Did the Romans have a trading post in skerries?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,053 ✭✭✭Paddico


    Apparently they did


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,590 ✭✭✭cfuserkildare


    That seems to have been a Very big camp up there.
    Look at the roads and they tell a story too.
    Long straight roads are generally a giveaway to Roman Occupation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    tibruit wrote: »
    We have three separate legendary tales of Irish princes who were forced to flee Ireland and who later returned with armies to take kingship. These characters would have lived in the second century when for the most part the Romans controlled Britain as far as and sometimes beyond the Antonine Wall in the north. We can adopt the view that our legends are fictional or alternatively are based on some reality from the time period. If there is provenance to these stories, then it is reasonable to assume that any foreign army arriving in Ireland at this time would have been Roman in some form.

    The legends about Eoghan Mor are particularly interesting because Flann Mainistrech gave us a date for his death i.e. the 5th year of the reign of Commodus (184) and the legends suggest that he fled Ireland about 25 years earlier which would take us back to the later 150s. The earliest tale (Do Bunud Imthechta Eoganachta) says that he was a foreigner to begin with and he fought a war in the eastern part of the Roman empire. A later tale (Cath Magh Leana) says his defeated army at Magh Leana was primarily made up of Spaniards and Asians.

    The Romans fought a war against the Parthians in Armenia, Syria and Mesopotamia from 163 to 165. The Romans initial successes were in Armenia in 163 under the leadership of Statius Priscus. In 161, he had been governor of Britain. A legend about an army of Spaniards and Asians coming here might seem fanciful, but the reality is that there were cohorts of Spaniards serving in Britain in the 2nd century. One of them, a cohort of Asturians, was actually based in Dyfed. Another, a cohort of Vardullians, were defending the Antonine Wall in 160. There are also a number of examples in Britain of epigraphy of individuals whose origins were in Syria and Mesopotamia that have been dated the later 2nd century and who were probably transferred to Britain after the Parthian war.

    I published a book this year that proposes a possible identification of Eoghan in Roman sources. I also suggest that Irish tales about him became templates for the development of Arthurian legends in Britain. British and Irish sources claim that southern Irish clans that claimed descent from Eoghan, became powerful in Wales and Cornwall in the 4th and 5th centuries.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,590 ✭✭✭cfuserkildare


    Well the Celts pushed all the natives into the extremities of Britain, hence the development of the different languages in those outlying regions ( Welsh, Cornish, Pictish etc ).
    Then the Romans arrived and attempted to subdue Those natives with varying degrees of failure.
    Is it possible that the Irish clans noted above perhaps were not Irish originally, but Welsh and Cornish who eventually settled here?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,071 ✭✭✭tibruit


    Well the Celts pushed all the natives into the extremities of Britain, hence the development of the different languages in those outlying regions ( Welsh, Cornish, Pictish etc ).
    Then the Romans arrived and attempted to subdue Those natives with varying degrees of failure.
    Is it possible that the Irish clans noted above perhaps were not Irish originally, but Welsh and Cornish who eventually settled here?

    Potentially, yes. The Irish had been trading for tin in Britain throughout the Bronze Age.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,208 ✭✭✭saabsaab


    I suppose someone doing digs 2,000 years hence might conclude wrongly that on finding a MacDonalds, many coke-a-cola bottles and say an Intel factory that the USA occupied Ireland at the time.


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